In many romantic manga series, characters are usually bundled together in love triangles. I hope you are familiar with the term. If you aren’t, love triangles are usually when the two main leads are in love with each other, but there is a third person who is in love with one of main leads and purposely interferes and prevents the main couple from being together. It is a popular concept that is used for many shoujo manga, anime, and Asian dramas. Rather than focusing on the geometric shape of a triangle, I am going to talk about two shoujo manga that focuses on a love square.
Heroine Shikkaku (No Longer Heroine, ヒロイン失格)
By Momoko Koda
The first manga I am going to introduce is Heroine Shikkaku by Momoko Koda. Every girl is the heroine of her own shoujo manga. Hatori Matsuzaki has an unrequited love for her childhood friend, Rita Terasaka. Even though Rita has many girlfriends, Hatori believes that they will eventually become a couple and get married. However, Hatori’s hopeful dream disappears when Rita and an innocent, kind girl, Miho Adachi get into a serious relationship. Thus, Hatori attempts to move forward and seeks comfort with Kousuke Hiromitsu.
In this love square, the main lead and couple is Hatori and Rita. However, Hatori is in a relationship with Kousuke and Rita is with Miho. Now, the problem that prevents the main couple from getting a happy ending is the lack of communication. If Hatori was honest with her feelings and confessed in the beginning, she probably would have been in a happy relationship with Rita. Yet due to the lack of communication, the two made a lot of mistakes, and also cause emotional damage to others around them. For example, when Rita decides to break up with Miho, it leads to Miho’s depression, and she starts sleeping around.
Overall, Heroine Shikkaku is a very predictable shoujo manga. There wasn’t anything that gave me a lasting impression.
Kare wa Tomodachi (He is My Friend, 彼はトモダチ)
By Ririko Yoshioka
The second shoujo manga I read with a love square is Kare wa Tomodachi by Ririko Yoshioka. In her third year of middle school, Hiyori Fujisaki has a crush on a boy in the class next door to her’s, Yuuma Mizuno. In order to confess to Mizuno, Hiyori asks her seat mate Karen Sasamoto, who is childhood friends with Mizuno, to introduce him to her. Eventually, Sasamoto and Hiyori develop feelings for each other and end up being a couple. As for Mizuno, he goes out with Kotone Kanabara, Mizuno and Sasamoto’s childhood friend. However, Kotone becomes possessive over Sasamoto, which causes a break-up within both couples. The love square forms when Sasamoto starts “hanging out” with Kotone and Hiyori and Mizuno start going out. However, Sasamoto and Hiyori still have feelings for each other.
The couples in this manga also demonstrate a lack of communication. However, I think the main cause of suffering occurs from Kotone’s manipulation. She ruined the lives of all her friends around her because she only though of her own selfishness and loneliness. Kotone is blinded by her own loneliness and believed that there is no one who is there for her, but rather it is the opposite. Her friends were always there for her, and in the end, she learns to stand on her own two feet. However, I felt that it was completely unfair that Kotone got off easy and didn’t face any consequences for bullying Hiyori, and practically, ruining the friendship of Mizuno and Karen. Instead, Hiyori, Mizuno, and Sasamoto faced many hardships and consequences.
I thought this manga was pretty interesting to read because it had a climatic twist that caught me off guard. I also felt the sense of uncertainty because I didn’t know who Hiyori will end up with.